Tuesday, July 22, 2008

can your kid's photo quell speaking fears?

I've heard executive women speakers say they sometimes fight their speaking fears by putting a child's drawing or a photo of their child on the lectern during a talk. Now there may be a scientific reason for speaking moms to tote that photo along. An article in today's New York Times reports on a study that suggests there's a positive neurological effect for moms who have their smiling child's photo in front of them. Here's the main finding noted by the Times:
Using a functional MRI scanner to watch the brain in action, researchers have demonstrated that a picture of her own smiling baby activates the critical reward-processing regions of the mother’s brain much more strongly than seeing a picture of an unknown baby with the same happy look.
The lead author of the paper noted: "This very common response mothers have to their own babies is biologically driven. These brain systems are programmed to give us this emotional high." You'll note that pictures of a crying baby had the same impact, a release of dopamine, for reasons that are still unclear, but we'd stick with a happy shot for best effect. (The original paper in the journal Pediatrics is here.) Do you post your child's photo in front of you when speaking? Let us know in the comments.

1 comment:

Mary Fletcher Jones said...

I have looked at my child's photo to calm down my nerves before important meetings! I did not know other people did that. At my last presentation, I also played music from my shuffle as people came in (Zero 7, mostly). It helped me relax and I think it created a nice mood as people were entering the room.